Some Thoughts on Encouraging Reflective Self-Critique for Human Rights Activists & Advocates and Seekers of Social Justice
I find myself asking these questions and being concerned with the issues they raise in relation to my human rights advocacy and social change efforts and those of others.
In our sector, we tend to think that tech can solve everything, and many start-ups are making positive societal changes through innovative approaches and business models. But some of the world's most fundamental problems - like poverty, equality, or access to clean water - can't be fixed with an app, or even with a social enterprise or business-led approach.
Understanding context is key. Interventions run entirely by or in strong partnership with local organisations are more likely to be successful, as they are better able to navigate local nuances and political structures and understand the public's needs.
During a time of such social and political upheaval in which political leaders are seen more as being the problem than the solution, hashtags have given people something to believe in. In the absence of effective political leadership hashtags have created a space in which people can connect, unite and march side by side.
At the heart of this vision is a very compelling proposition: if you want to drive systemic change, you have to identify and harness the most powerful resources within that system.
It's an exciting time in technology and the people behind these brilliant ideas show that with passion, resourcefulness, creativity and courage it is possible to make a significant impact on the lives of others.
The question is not whether we are leaders but what we are leading ourselves and others towards? Leadership is intimately bound up with narrative, and the work of developing leaders, if it is to be relevant, must concern itself with the wider context of the narratives we find ourselves in and those we are creating with every choice we make.
With the privilege of starting again, the one thing that I'd change would be to dream wild change a few years earlier, and laugh more loudly at the folk who say it can't be done. They were never going to try in the first place.
We don't like to be told what to do. We don't like to be told to compromise, when others don't. Each of us is as important as the other, so why shouldn't we have what they have?
You may wonder how social media could possibly be used to improve access to critical services like healthcare in Africa, a continent where only 8.6% of the population are online. Activists in Nigeria are doing just that.